Swim all year round to keep children safer
Did you know that the risk of drowning does not go away in winter, with 34% of drowning deaths occurring in Winter and Autumn in Australia last year? Swimming lessons should be attended all year round to maintain swimming skills and lessen your child’s risk around water.
Common questions when talking about the importance of swimming all year round are “Is it really necessary? Surely it is only important to swim in the warm summer months? Won’t my child get sick?” Such assumptions are completely incorrect.
Learning to swim is a long term, ongoing process, and consistency is the key to the development and maintenance of swimming skills. Attending swimming lessons makes up an important part of a child’s weekly routine throughout their infant, preschool and early school years, and should not just be limited to the summer months, as the skills and behaviours taught in lessons need to be practised all year round to allow children to develop at their own pace. Unfortunately the risks posed by drowning do not go away in winter, so neither should the lessons.
Additionally, children under 5 are just beginning to develop muscle memory, and need constant reinforcement to retain skills previously learnt, so a break in lessons often results in a loss of skills. By taking a break in the cooler months, you may be wasting all the time and money spent on lessons previously, and by swimming all year round children remain confident in the water. It is important to remember that learning to swim is not just another option on the list of sports and activities available to children – it is an invaluable lifesaving skill – not a seasonal recreational activity.
Our Top 10 Tips for happy Winter swimming are:
1. Don’t put your child in a rash shirt – they are for sun protection, not warmth. They will only make you child colder in the water.
2. If you are a parent in the water, you may wish to remove your shirt before you get out of the water, because as soon as the air hits the wet fabric, you will feel the cold.
3. Have your towels easily accessible near the edge of the pool, so as soon as you get out of the water, they are ready to wrap.
4. Bring your dressing gown! This way you won’t be struggling to keep it on while you wrap your child. (A big old hoodie jumper is a great alternative if a dressing gown is just too much for you in public). A dressing gown, hoodie or hooded towel for the kids makes life much easier, and leave the child’s arms free as they move to the change rooms.
5. Take advantage of our hot showers – and bundle everyone into warm dry PJ’s or a track suit for the rest of the day.
6. Don’t forget head and feet – throw on a beanie or hat, and some ugg boots.
7. Give children a hot meal or drink (my children love warm milo as a great post swimming treat in winter) when you get home – they will sleep soundly that night, or even for their day sleep!
8. Remember – exercise is good for winter immunity! Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.
9. DO NOT stop attending lessons – you will simply be wasting the time and money spent so far teaching your child the valuable skill of swimming, and they will have to relearn some of their swimming skills again in the Spring.
10. Enjoy this time to slow down and be with your child/ren – either in the water, or poolside watching their progression of skills – come summer they will be even better swimmers!